School holidays in a jumble

2011-04-22 00:00

NEXT week is likely to be a jumble for teachers, pupils and parents as some schools in the province will be open while others will close following a mess-up on the schools calendar.

High absenteeism can be expected for those schools that will be open.

Schools closed yesterday to accommodate the start of the Easter weekend beginning today. April 25, which is Easter Monday , is also a public holiday.

April 26 has been declared a school holiday and is followed by Freedom Day on April 27.

April 28 and April 29 were not factored in as holidays on the schools calendar.

The Federation of Governing Bodies raised concerns with the Department of Basic Education, saying these two days would not be used effectively for teaching.

Many schools contacted by The Witness said they spotted this problem earlier in the year.

But when they contacted the provincial department to request permission to close for those two days, they were initially turned down and told that it was against policy.

Schools were later given an option to apply to shut down for the two days provided they can account for how they will make up the lost days. Most of the schools in Pietermaritzburg said they decided to stay open since parents have already been informed that schools will be open.

Granville Whittle, spokesperson for the national department, conceded that perhaps the March holidays should have been planned to coincide with the week of the Easter holidays. He said MECs and heads of provincial education departments were told as early as last year, after the national department received complaints, to use their discretion in giving permission to schools that applied in advance and in writing.

Schools in other provinces started school two days earlier in January, he said.

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